The Sarbanes-Oxley Act hasn't helped in the long-running battle against corporate fraud, according to a recent survey of certified fraud examiners -- a staggering 76 percent of whom reported that fraud is more prevalent today than five years ago. The 2007 Report on Corporate Fraud, conducted for governance software vendor Oversight Systems Inc., noted that that was up nine percentage points from its survey in 2005, and that a mere 3 percent of respondents felt that fraud was less prevalent, down from 7 percent in 2005. "This survey indicates the checklist approach to compliance is not effectively reducing fraud," said Oversight Systems chief executive Patrick Taylor, in a statement. Furthermore, 43 percent of respondents felt that "vigilance and interest by corporate leaders" in creating a culture of integrity and fraud prevention had "already started to fade." Among the survey's other findings:

  • When asked why fraud occurs, 81 percent of respondents cited "pressures to do 'whatever it takes' to meet goals;" 72 percent cited personal gain; 41 percent said that perpetrators think they won't get caught; and 40 percent said that perpetrators do not consider their actions fraudulent.
  • When asked the most effective measures to prevent or deter fraud, 43 percent of respondents mentioned strong leadership and "tone at the top;" the next-most cited measures were "technology-enabled continuous monitoring" and visible prosecutions and convictions -- at 15 percent each.
  • The report, which surveyed 86 CFEs, including internal auditors, independent auditors, law enforcement officials and others, is available for free at www.oversight systems.com/survey.

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